The High School All Americans shocked British Columbia 17-7 to win the High School Elite 7s at the Las Vegas Invitational Saturday.
The final game was held inside Sam Boyd Stadium before an estimated 30,000-plus crowd during a break in the USA 7s action. The HSAA team showcased some impressive team play, hitting the rucks well and recycling quickly.
Scrumhalf Mike Reid scored two tries, the first to get them going with a 7-0 lead.
Then big Bryce Campbell of Cathedral Royal Irish in Indiana bulled over to put BC on their heels at 12-0.
British Columbia bounced back with a well-worked score that stretched the HSAA defense and made it a precarious 12-7 lead for the Americans.
But the HSAA team came right back, winning the restart and sending Reid down the left sideline. Bottle up, Reid somehow wriggled out of contact and stretched over for a key try.
The HSAA almost scored again, but were held up in-goal by some solid BC tackling. But the All American defense was superb, tracking the excellent BC ball movement and putting the game away.
“These guys have come together so well over just five days,” said Head Coach Salty Thompson. “We told them to forget about the crowd, forget about the final, and just play together. They are all stars on their individual clubs and those players have a tendency to do too much on their own, but I was really pleased that they didn’t do that and played as a unit.”
“This team is so diverse – players from all over the country,” added assistant coach and former Eagle David Fee. “And we really have no star players. They are all good, and play as a team. It’s great to see.”
Thompson said the players were poised and didn’t panic when BC reduced the deficit.
“I think they realized they could do this,” he said. “They played smart and they backed themselves.
It was the culmination of an excellent week for the players as they learned much. Reid, who was with the HSAA 2nd team last year, scored two tries in the final and was solid all weekend.
“We wanted to beat the Canadians on our home soil,” he said. “We wanted to play our game and not be a bunch of individuals. Pulling together as a team was our big achievement.”
On Reid’s second try, he was very emphatic in his touching down as he stretched over.
“Didn’t want any grey areas, any ifs or buts in this; make sure they say it’s a try,” he said. “Playing in front of this crowd was amazing and the experience was great.”